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PM finally in the driver’s seat in cartoonist Mark Knight’s vaccine race

Mark Knight, September 9, 2021 6:15PM Kids News

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Cartoonist Mark Knight likens Australia's vaccination push with a drag car race between a syringe full of vaccine and the Delta variant of Covid-19. media_cameraCartoonist Mark Knight likens Australia's vaccination push with a drag car race between a syringe full of vaccine and the Delta variant of Covid-19.


Reading level: orange

The race to vaccinate Australia from Covid-19 is finally on!

It’s been a slow start, there have been some supply issues with Pfizer, a scare campaign about AstraZeneca and lots of political fights between our state premiers and the federal government, but at last we are seeing a concerted* effort and strategy to vaccinate our way out of the pandemic.

Nations around the world have done it and have reopened their cities to a new Covid normal. Vaccination passports will be a part of our future by the look of it.

I have drawn so many cartoons on Covid and vaccinations over the past 18 months that it is challenging to come up with new concepts.

PRIME MINISTER media_cameraPrime Minster Scott Morrison gets his second and final Covid-19 vaccination shot at Sydney’s Castle Hill Medical Centre in March 2021. Picture: Bianca De Marchi

I had sketched this idea of a vaccine syringe drag racing car a while ago, around the time when Prime Minister Scott Morrison said getting the vaccine into people’s arms was “not a race”. I bet he regrets saying that now!

The sketch was just a bit of fun and it sat there to one side with all my other discarded* sketch ideas until recently when the new national strategy to open up was revealed. This strategy includes a plan to make lockdowns a thing of the past when 70-80 per cent of the population is vaccinated.

To my mind, this comes down to a simple contest of Australia versus Delta. So I thought that maybe I could drag out (pardon the pun) my earlier sketch of the syringe drag car.

I Googled drag racing cars to find the most outrageous rigs and biggest engines and incorporated* it all into my vehicle: a big, pulsating* engine breathing fire through glowing orange exhaust pipes, huge tyres on the back, ScoMo* squeezed into the driver’s cockpit, and the vaccine sponsors’ names on the side.

This creation had to look like a drag racing car but at the same time it also had to resemble a syringe. The drawing needed readers to recognise both.

Then it was time to come up with a concept for the Covid Delta variant drag machine.

Mark Knight Cartoon for Herald Sun 1st January 2021- Thank You! media_cameraOne of Mark Knight’s cartoons from 2020 shows his Covid-19 character, this time being stepped on by health and emergency services workers who have been keeping us safe.

Last year I created a Covid virus character based on the microscopic images of the virus; that little ball with all the protein spikes all over it. A miserable little critter but well suited to illustrating the virus.

I put it behind the wheel of its dragracer, with a humungous engine upfront that was capable of outrunning contact tracing and infection controls! Massive tyres on the rear look a little bit like the virus itself and its sponsors’ signage is on the side. I coloured the racer “goo” green. The stage was set!

Both vehicles sit at the starting line, engines idling roughly, eyes fixed as they wait for the race lights to go green.

I draw a little pig in my cartoons. You will notice that he is advising the Prime Minister to check that the handbrake is not on this time. Cheeky!

The reader looks at the cartoon from the viewpoint of someone sitting in the grandstand next to the track. This is what we are doing in reality, watching the race between the vaccine and the virus. We just hope that our car wins.


  • concerted: determined and serious, or done with others
  • discarded: thrown away or put aside because it is not useful
  • incorporated: used or included in something
  • ScoMo: nickname for Prime Minister Scott Morrison
  • pulsating: moving in and out, or shaking with strong, regular movements


How does the coronavirus vaccine work?

‘Vaccas’ drive through serves up Covid jabs

Clever ads no cure for vaccine complacency

Jane’s V the sign of a little victory for science


  1. What two things did Mark Knight want the vaccine drag car to look like?
  2. Who is driving the vaccine drag car?
  3. What does the other car in the race represent?
  4. Which viewpoint does the reader see the cartoon from?
  5. Why does Mark create this viewpoint for the reader?


1. Help Mark!
Mark has written that he is finding it challenging to come up with new ideas (or concepts) for cartoons about life with Covid and vaccination. Can you think of some great and fun ideas for cartoons on these topics? Write a list of ideas. Choose one idea and draw your own cartoon.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design

2. Extension
Write a creative story based on Mark’s cartoon – your story must start as the two drag racing cars start their race!

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English,  Critical and Creative Thinking

Commentate the Race
The race is on and Mark Knight has set the scene for us. Now we need a commentator to narrate along the way.

Decide if you will commentate the events leading up to the race, the moments just before the race, the race itself, or what the prize will mean for the winner. Then create a paragraph of script that you can read out in your best commentator’s voice.

Remember commentators like to create a lot of voice, so you’ll need to really focus on your VCOP Skills. They use a mix of short sharp sentences to build suspense. They use power openers to draw us in and lots of emotive language to get our emotions racing.

Practise reading your script out to work on your delivery. Then take a photo of the cartoon with your phone or iPad and use screen recorder to add commentary to the picture.

Share it with a family member or classmate to see what they think.

Extra Reading in health